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Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)
May 24, 2003
Louise Taylor, Herald-Leader Staff Writer
Former federal drug agent Lester Coleman, who gained fame with a theory that a Pan Am flight exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, because of a drug sting gone sour, admitted yesterday in Fayette Circuit Court that he had violated the terms of his probation on check fraud convictions.
But for several minutes, he tried to “put things in perspective for the court” and explain why he left Kentucky without his probation officer’s permission and failed to pay restitution to those he bilked of more than $10,000. The legal trespasses prompted Circuit Judge Thomas Clark to send Coleman to prison yesterday to serve out a 10-year sentence.
Coleman explained to Clark that he had had a change of heart and spirit since he fled Kentucky.
Before he left, he said: “I was stoned on Prozac” and “my trust and my loyalty and my faith in the United States government was at an all-time low. I was living in fear …. My illusion that the system was out to get me was wrong.”
God, he said, turned him around and he now respects authorities such as Clark, his probation officer and the police.
Coleman claimed he went to Saudi Arabia for work, but he was arrested last week in his hometown of Panama City, Fla. He had also been in New Orleans since he left Kentucky last summer.
He said he had experienced a conversion: “I am speaking with the help of the Lord,” he told the judge. Clark interrupted: “Just out of curiosity, what state does the Lord reside in?”
Coleman, without missing a beat, replied: “He resides everywhere, but at the time, I was in New Orleans.”
Coleman’s conviction came after a 2000 trial at which he was accused of dozens of counts of using his computer to print checks and steal money from Central Bank and two individuals.
In 1996 he was was convicted of perjury for testimony about the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing in 1988.
He said that he is now able to repay the money he took because in Florida he was hired as the director of the Council on Aging in Panama City.
His attorney, Michael Meehan, asked Clark whether Coleman could report to prison on July 7 rather than immediately so Coleman could make arrangements for his minor children, who would otherwise end up in foster care.
Clark was unmoved as he dispatched Coleman to prison right away: “If I do that, I’m afraid we’ll never see him again.”
Record Number: 0305270156
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